Ongoing Coverage:

Karen Impola

Studio One and Classical Music Host

Karen Impola is the host of Iowa Public Radio's The Folk Tree and University Concert. Karen began working at KUNI in 1990.  Before that, she hosted Folk and progressive music shows at WXPN in Philadelphia, and was a production assistant at NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross.”

Karen spent much of her childhood and adolescence holed up in her room with a record player.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology & Anthropology from Swarthmore College, where she also did her first radio show, at 6:00 a.m. on a ten-watt station, to an audience which numbered in the single digits.  In her spare time she chauffeurs teenagers and cans tomatoes.

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Arts and Culture
3:03 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Begonias & Dead Horses: The Best Folk & Classical Music of 2014

Cover art for Runa's Current Affairs album. Karen Impola ranks it number two on her list of the best releases of 2014

It was a good year for chamber music, orchestras, fusion and harmonies. That's according to two of IPR's music hosts who shared their favorite recordings of 2014.

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Studio One
5:27 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Halloween Treats From Studio One

When it comes to compiling a Halloween playlist, there are the staples like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and “The Monster Mash” sung by the theatrical Bobby Boris Pickett. Oddly enough the 60s and 80s created a lot of the music that has ended up being played at nearly every Halloween event, but then every decade has produced some uncanny tracks. And for inspiration we’ve brewed up a short list of some of our favorites to spice up your Halloween festivities.

Scarlett Cerna, host of Studio One:

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Studio One
4:14 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

The Langer's Ball visits Studio One's Folk Tree

The Langers Ball at IPR studios in Cedar Falls. Back row, l to r: Lance Gams, Drew Miller, Michael Sturm, Phil Maass (IPR engineer), Danny McDermott. Front row: Hannah Rediske, Karen Impola (host).
Credit Photo by Tony Dehner / Iowa Public Radio

Twin Cities Celtic-rock band The Langers Ball visited IPR's Studio One last week, while they were in the area for the Iowa Irish Festival.  The group originally started as an acoustic duo of accordionist and pennywhistler Hannah Rediske and guitarist and mandolinist Michael Sturm. They recruited some other musicians to play with them in the studio, and decided that it was so much fun, they wanted to be a full band all the time.

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Studio One
4:55 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

CD Review: Scythian's "Jump at the Sun"

The band Scythian (pronounced SITH-ee-unn - they’re named after a nomadic Eurasian tribe) has an unlikely combination of influences.  Three of the members are siblings: fiddler Alexander, guitarist Danylo and cellist Larissa Fedoryka are from a family of Ukrainian immigrant, and were classically trained.  Bassist Josef Crosby, who also doubles on fiddle, was classically trained as well. Drummer Tim Hepburn started out in jazz, and banjo player Ben-David Warner grew up on a diet of Celtic music via NPR’s Thistle and Shamrock.

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Studio One
10:21 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Album Review: "Words Like Yours" by Lily Henley

Credit Yael Ilan

Lily Henley’s “Words Like Yours” is the latest CD to arrive in my mailbox, seemingly out of nowhere, and knock my socks off.  It actually arrived from New York, by way of a promoter in Seattle, but its roots span continents. 

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Studio One
2:29 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Listen to Jon Hogan and Maria Moss on IPR's The Folk Tree

Jon Hogan and Maria Moss perform in Studio One during IPR's The Folk Tree on Easter Sunday.
Credit IPR/Phil Maass

Jon Hogan and Maria Moss were not on my radar until about a week before the show. A friend of a friend was organizing their concert in southern Minnesota, and knew they'd be passing through Iowa on Easter Sunday, on their way back home to Texas. A few Facebook messages and e-mails and it was a done deal.  Looking like they'd be right at home in a Bonnie and Clyde movie, Jon and Maria gave us some high-energy renditions of early country music and shared their historical knowledge of the genre.

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Live Music Events
10:21 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Jon Hogan and Maria Moss Live on The Folk Tree

Credit jonhoganmusic.com/

This Sunday, April 20, during the 3:00 hour, The Folk Tree presents live music from Jon Hogan and Maria Moss.   Based in Austin, Texas, Hogan and Moss are purveyors of rollicking roots music and trad-inspired originals, which they describe as “primitive-modernist music that will break your heart and blow the doors off your Ford.”

Join us in IPR’s Cedar Falls studios, on the third floor of UNI’s Communication Arts Center (map here), or tune in and listen for some high-energy music.

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Studio One
5:04 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis: The Legacy of Dave Van Ronk

Every once in a while, folk music pokes its way out of obscurity and gets noticed by a wider public. Filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen shone a spotlight on music of the American south in their 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou, and they’ve done it again with this year’s Inside Llewyn Davis.  The movie is a fictionalized account of the Greenwich Village folk music scene of the early 1960s, when baby boomers discovered traditional music, and the oxymoronic concept of the “professional folk singer” took root.

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Studio One
2:46 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Studio One - Picks to Beat Cabin Fever!

Credit Flickr: Seth Anderson

Winter keeps dragging on, and here at Studio One we've got Cabin Fever! While we wait out these last few weeks of cold and snow, here are the top songs and bands keeping us warm and thinking about summer!

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Studio One
4:08 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Folk Music Icon Pete Seeger Dies at 94

Pete Seeger at age 88 photographed on 6-16-07 at the Clearwater Festival 2007
Credit Anthony Pepitone

The world lost a great treasure on Tuesday, when Pete Seeger passed away.  From the early 1940’s until just last year, Pete inspired audiences with his singing, his enthusiasm, and his conviction that the world can become a better place.  Mark Moss of Sing Out! Magazine had this to say about him:

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Best Music Of 2013
4:03 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Top Folk and Classical Music of 2013

Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer were one of Karen Impola's top picks for 2013
candyschwartz

Host Charity Nebbe is joined by IPR music host Barney Sherman to talk about the top classical music of 2013, and Karen Impola talks about some of the best folk music of the year.  Listen to some excerpts and a little info about the artist and performances. Scroll down for the full list of selections.

Barney Sherman's top classical music: [NOTE: Barney's complete list of 28 CDs can be found at this link]:

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The Folk Tree
1:51 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

This week on The Folk Tree

A live recording of Iowa native William Elliott Whitmore is on tap this Sunday.
Credit Photo courtesy of William Elliott Whitmore

Every Sunday afternoon from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., The Folk Tree examines the various roots and branches of traditional and acoustic music.  Join us this Sunday, October 13, when the show includes exclusive Iowa Public Radio recordings of earthy singer-songwriter William Elliott Whitmore and bluegrass from Mr. Baber's Neighbors.  You'll also hear from new releases by the Vinegar Creek Constituency and Robin and Linda Williams, and old favorites Dave Van Ronk and the Bothy Band.

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The Folk Tree
4:49 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Pieta Brown and Lucie Thorne live on The Folk Tree - join us!

Pieta Brown is a familiar voice for Iowa Public Radio listeners.  Her latest project is a duo with Australian singer-songwriter Lucie Thorne, performing under the name Love Over Gold.  Love Over Gold will play live in Iowa Public Radio's Studio One in Cedar Falls on Sunday, Sept.

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The Folk Tree
4:11 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

This week on The Folk Tree

Photo by Sandra Dyas

Join us this Sunday between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. for The Folk Tree, a blend of roots-based music both traditional and modern, acoustic and electric.  Each week, we share some of Iowa Public Radio's  exclusive live recordings made at various venues around the state.  This week, we'll hear the Irish band Danu, recording live in Ames, and Radoslav Lorkovic from the 2010 Iowa Arts Festival in Iowa City.  We've also got music on tap from Brooks Williams, Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott, the Deadly Gentlemen, and Altan.

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University Concert
3:35 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

This Week on University Concert

Photo courtesy of the Ames Piano Quartet

This week and next week on University Concert, we'll be airing a concert by the Ames Piano Quartet, recorded live in April of 2012.  It was the quartet's last performance under that name (they are now called the Amara Piano Quartet, and the last time they performed with their previous lineup: violinist Mahlon Darlington, violist Jonathan Sturm, cellist George Work, and pianist William David.  This week, we'll hear music by Brahms, Bridge, Dvorak, and more.

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University Concert
4:13 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

This Week on University Concert

This week on University Concert, we'll hear selections from three 2010 concerts by the University of Iowa Chamber Orchestra, a graduate student ensemble directed by Dr. William LaRue Jones.  They'll be playing music by Schumann, Shostakovich, and Wagner.

University Concert is our weekly spotlight on live music taking place on college and university campuses across the state.  It can be heard Saturday mornings at 7:00 a.m. and Sunday evenings at 6:00 p.m.

The Folk Tree
4:01 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

This week on The Folk Tree

Photo courtesy of Susan Werner

This week on The Folk Tree, join us for exclusive Iowa Public Radio recordings of Iowa native Susan Werner (now based in Chicago, and known around the world), from the Oster Regent Theater in Cedar Falls; and jazzy blues, or perhaps bluesy jazz, from The Hot Club of Davenport, recorded live at Muddy Waters in Bettendorf.

We'll also hear music from Peter Mayer, Claudia Schmidt, Jean Ritchie, and the Old Crow Medicine Show, among others.

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The Folk Tree
12:23 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

This week on The Folk Tree

Photo courtesy of Mary McAdams

This week on The Folk Tree, join us for exclusive Iowa Public Radio recordings of award-winning Des Moines-based singer-songwriter Mary McAdams, from the 2010 Iowa Women's Music Festival, and Iowa City acoustic roots band Red Rock Hill, recorded live last August in our own Studio One in Cedar Falls.

We'll also hear music from new releases by Tom Paxton, the Wild Ponies, and the Barn Birds, and old favorites from the Battlefied Band and Mary Flower.

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The Folk Tree
4:50 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

This week on The Folk Tree

Photo courtesy of Finnders and Youngberg

This week's edition of The Folk Tree includes a very recent live recording and interview with the group Finnders and Youngberg, a Colorado-based group which includes Iowa native and award-winning songwriter Mike Finnders; a live recording of Iowa's own Jordan Sellergren; and music in honor of the summer solstice.  You'll also hear from Norman Blake, Patti Casey, and Greg Brown, among others.  Tune in between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 23 for some great music!

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The Folk Tree
4:30 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Howlin' Brothers play live on The Folk Tree

Photo courtesy of The Howlin' Brothers

The Howlin’ Brothers are a three-piece string band that brings heart and passion into every performance. Their upbeat shows are heavy with original and traditional music, featuring the sounds of slide banjo, harmonica and old-time fiddle.

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The Folk Tree
1:49 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Peter Mayer, Iowa Opera House Project spotlighted on The Folk Tree

Photo by Lisa Harrison

Iowa Public Radio's Cedar Falls facilities are the home of Studio-One-the-room (as opposed to Studio-One-the-programming-stream), an excellent venue for live music.  As I write this, Studio-One-the-room is undergoing renovation and not available for use, but on April 28, The Folk Tree brings you some music that was recorded live there.

In the 2:00 hour, it's our favorite metaphysical Minnesotan singer-songwriter, Peter Mayer.  Then in the 3:00 hour, Sam Knutson, Jordan Sellegren,  and John Waite play music from their Iowa Opera House project.

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The Folk Tree
10:50 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey, Crooked Still featured on The Folk Tree this Sunday

Photo by Jim Herrington

Live music is important to us here at IPR.  Because of that, we regularly travel to festivals and music venues to record musicians in live performance.  Then we bring the recordings back and share them with you on the radio.

On Sunday, April 21, The Folk Tree presents a live recording of Iowa legends Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey, from the Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines, in the 2:00 hour.  Then listen during the 3:00 hour for neo-traditionalist string band Crooked Still, recorded at the 2011 Iowa Arts Festival in Iowa City.

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The Folk Tree
11:53 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Live Recordings, Live Guests on The Folk Tree this week

Photo courtesy of Red Horse

On Sunday, April 14, The Folk Tree takes you to one of the hippest venues in Iowa, CSPS in Cedar Rapids.  In the 2:00 hour, we'll hear upstate New York singer-songwriter and percussionist Karen Savoca, accompanied by guitarist Pete Heitzman, from a concert recorded in October 2011.  Then in the 3:00 hour, we offer the first taste of a recording made just this past January: seasoned folksinger Tom Paxton.

We'll also have some live guests stopping by for an interview.  Red Horse is a trio consisting of three great singer-songwriters: Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Lucy Kaplansky

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The Folk Tree
11:24 am
Fri April 5, 2013

The Pines, Sarah Jarosz featured on this week's edition of The Folk Tree

Photo courtesy of sarahjarosz.com

Live music is important to us here at IPR.  Because of that, we regularly travel to festivals and music venues to record musicians in live performance.  Then we bring the recordings back and share them with you on the radio.  On Sunday, April 7, The Folk Tree presents two live recordings from the 2010 Iowa Arts Festival in Iowa City. 

During the 2:00 hour, it's indie-roots duo The Pines.  David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey are both Iowa natives, but they first met and began playing together in Arizona, and they're now based out of the Twin Cities.

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The Folk Tree
12:00 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

The Folk Tree Sunday, March 17, 2013

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, our show includes two segments from a 2012 concert by the Irish group Danu, in the 2:00 and 3:00 hours, plus lots of other great folk music, both Irish and non-Irish.

University Concert
12:00 pm
Sun March 17, 2013

University Concert March 16 and 17, 2013

Pianist Rika Uchida, with soprano Leanne Freeman-Miller, recorded on the Drake University campus on March 23, 2011.

University Concert
12:00 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

University Concert March 9 and 10, 2013

A recital by pianist Nicholas Roth, recorded in November 2012.

The Folk Tree
12:00 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

The Folk Tree Sunday, February 24, 2013

This week's edition of The Folk Tree includes exclusive IPR live recordings of Ruth King and the Boone County Snake Chasers, plus music by Peter Mayer, Pharis and Jason Romero, Annalivia, and Seamus Egan.

The Folk Tree
12:00 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

The Folk Tree Sunday, March 3, 2013

This week's edition of The Folk Tree includes exclusive IPR live recordings of Mr. Baber's Neighbors and Darrell Scott, plus music by Kathy Kallick, Nickel Creek, Lucy Kaplansky, and the Tannahill Weavers.

Java Blend
12:00 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

The Folk Tree Sunday, March 10, 2013

This week's edition of The Folk Tree includes exclusive IPR live recordings of John McCutcheon and Beppe Gambetta, plus music by Brother Sun, Hey Mavis, Jane Voss, and The Chieftains.

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